British Land says West End is hitting City

THE BOSS of one of the UK’s biggest property firms yesterday said international companies are increasingly choosing to base their offices in the West End rather than the traditional Square Mile.

Chris Grigg, chief executive of British Land, told City A.M. that his company has reduced the proportion of its office holdings in the Square Mile from 65 per cent to half over the last three years.

“The international crowd who need to be in London want to be in and around the West End,” he explained.

“If you’ve got to spend your time flying around world it’s closer to Heathrow than Canary Wharf. There’s also a shorter commute and the prestige of being in the West End.”

In March the company sold the City’s Ropemaker Place development for £472m and topped this up with a share placing to form a near-£1bn war chest, which Grigg says will be deployed soon.

“We’d be disappointed if we didn’t make £500m of acquisitions over the course of the year. We will be investing principally outside the City, in London and the south east,” he said.

Grigg was speaking as his company unveiled results for the year to March, which show the total value of British Land’s estate grew 0.5 per cent to £10.5bn, with underlying pre-tax profits up slightly at £274m.

He also promised a “quite different” approach when his firm comes to develop the massive Shoreditch Estate site on the northern edge of the City: “It won’t look like an extension of Broadgate. Offices will combine with retail.”